Timothy Gitzen is an anthropologist, queer studies scholar, and activist. He received his PhD in Sociocultural Anthropology at the University of Minnesota and before coming to Hong Kong he was a Korea Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at Indiana University’s Institute for Korean Studies. His research examines the intersection of national security and sexuality in South Korea, interrogating the production and management of the “queer threat.” His book project—tentatively titled “Queering Peninsular Destruction: An Ethnography of National Security in South Korea”—concerns the banality of what he calls “peninsular destruction” in South Korea and how this creates violence in the state’s margins that gets erased under the banner of “national security.” He illustrates how this enables the state and citizens to mobilize security technologies, laws, and discourse to produce queer people as national security threats. This, he argues, is indicative of broader global security logics that require the transformation of people into mechanisms of data.
While at HKU, he will begin work on a related project on the concept of life in South Korea, building on collaborative research with public health scholars in South Korea. This research will center on queer suicide and the inadequacies of mental health institutions to address this escalating problem. It will ask: what is life in Korea when the life lost or taken is swept under the rug, thrown into a closet, or forgotten? How can we grapple with the deeply emotional and difficult topic of suicide by considering the potential of life and what counts as life?
Parts of his research appear in Transgender Studies Quarterly, Anthropology News, Platypus, and the forthcoming Duke University Press collection Queer Korea.